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Author Topic: Best CW contesting rig under $500  (Read 691 times)
W5TD
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« on: January 23, 2007, 10:55:21 AM »

Here is a topic that has been covered before, but with a new twist on it.  If someone was pretty limited in funds-with around $500 to spend-what is the best CW contesting rig to get?

I know that antennas are the way to go, but assume that it is not really possible to install better antennas at this time, and a beam is already in use.

« Last Edit: March 01, 2012, 07:49:07 PM by W5TD » Logged
N4SL
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« Reply #1 on: January 23, 2007, 12:22:12 PM »

Kenwood TS830S
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N0IU
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« Reply #2 on: January 23, 2007, 01:09:46 PM »

Buy whatever you can afford. Anything in that price range is going to be a compromise on many different levels. Some people (me included) have spent more than that on the key alone! Just make sure that whatever you buy has CW filters.

Contesting is just as much finesse and technique as it is about equipment. Put something, anything, on the air and work as many contests as you can.

Good Luck!
Scott N0IU
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K9NW
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« Reply #3 on: January 23, 2007, 03:35:55 PM »

You can probably find a stock TS930S and maybe an IC751A for around this figure.  A bit more though, if they're filtered up.
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AF9J
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« Reply #4 on: January 23, 2007, 05:57:04 PM »

Ten Tecs are always decent CW rigs.  Possibly the older ones like the Ten Tec Omni D, Corsair, or Corsair II. But, make sure the PTO is up to snuff.  If possible, try to get one with (Or put in) a 250 or 500 Hz filter.  If you can't afford that, at least an old Bencher Audio filter, or an Idiom Press SCAF.

73,
Ellen - AF9J
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K8GU
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« Reply #5 on: January 24, 2007, 08:44:21 AM »

I'll concur with Mike, K9NW, on this one.  I'm using a pair of TS-930's right now and they are just about as good as anything else I've used.  The TS-830 is a good one, too.  Although, the no-tune solid state PA and the PIEXX option with the TS-930 make it a better contesting rig.
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KI9A
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« Reply #6 on: February 07, 2007, 06:43:24 AM »

plain-jane 751. Add an INRAD filter, and POW!

Also, might be able to find a TS-930 for around that figure..I just missed out on a CLEAN IC-765 at a local hamfest, that went for $500 loaded w/filters.

Or, add $200 & open up the possiblities a ton. I have a pair of 746 non-pro's, w/ inrads & just love them for CW.

73-Chuck KI9A
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VE3TMT
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« Reply #7 on: February 16, 2007, 07:24:16 AM »

If you are planning on switching bands frequently you will want to stay away from the hybrid radios. You will spend more time tuning than making contacts. I went from solid state to a TS830 line recently and after working a few of the bigger RTTY contests I quickly sold the gear and now have a 920 in the shack. Solid state and built-in tuner is the way to go.

VE3TMT
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NR9R
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« Reply #8 on: March 23, 2007, 02:23:36 PM »

$500 is quite a constraint and something that I was faced with.  Here is a list of that I came up with.

My favorites from the 80's that sell for <$500:
TS-930S, IC-745, IC-751A, IC-761 (same as 761A but with PS and filters standard), Ten Tec OMNI V, Ten Tec PARAGON

Favorites from the 90's for <$500
IC-737/737A, TS-450S, TS-440S, FT-890, IC-735.

The middle ground that that I tried to consider was between age and performance.  The higher performing rigs such as the TS-930S or IC-751A are showing their age.  If you buy one of these you should consider a margin for repair costs within the next few years (like any used car).  Since an older radio full of quarks will cause just as many problems during a contest as occasional receiver overload from a mid-grade transceiver, I would opt for newer more reliable.

If you decide to buy an older rig, purchase from a dealer that offers a warranty.  Here is a list of stores that post used lists online: AES, Associated Radio, Burghardt, Ham Radio Outlet, Hamstation, Universal Radio, and R&L.

What did I end up doing?  I bought an IC-761 and an OMNI V.  Both had problems and I ended up sending them back.  Increasing your budget a step higher to the $700 - $800 range will open up many more possibilities.  This is what I ended up doing.  I bough a TS-850S for $700 and couldn't be happier.

73
Anthony
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