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Author Topic: Best CW hf transceiver at modest price  (Read 2303 times)
K4TTX
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« on: April 13, 2003, 10:12:07 PM »

For someone who is interested only in CW, what would be the best used transceiver for a modest price? Contesting is not desired.
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G4GXL
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« Reply #1 on: April 14, 2003, 07:25:03 AM »

Depends how you define 'modest' (and 'best' I suppose).

For around $500-600 get an Elecraft K2. 2nd hand prices are not much different to new. OK it's only 15w but that's only an S-point or so down on a 100w rig.

For $350 the 4 band Elecraft K1 is plenty good enough as a main rig.

Otherwise a 2nd hand Drake TR-7 would be good value.

73 Steve, G4GXL
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NI0C
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« Reply #2 on: April 14, 2003, 07:50:20 AM »

For a 100 watt rig, the Kenwood TS-850S is hard to beat.  Just be sure you get the CW filters you want with it.  It has easily adjustable pitch control, CW reverse mode, AGC that can be turned off, slope tuning, a good set of attenuators, and full QSK operation-- all desirable features for CW.  Used price will vary based on accessories provided, such as built-in auto tuner, filter complement, etc.
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K1ZC
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« Reply #3 on: April 14, 2003, 09:58:44 AM »

It kind of depends on how many features you want to have.  I wanted a rig to get started but didn't have much money to spend, but I found an old Heathkit HW-16 with the matching VFO.  This is a late 1960's / early 1970's rig that is CW only, works a 250KHz chunk of 80, 40, and 15 meters bands including all the novice CW band segments.

This rig is very simple to operate, input is 90 watts so it has plenty of power.  It comes with just the most basic controls  since this was designed as an affordable "no frills" rig to get novices on the air.  I managed to build a complete station (rig, antenna, straight key, etc.) and get myself on the air for a total cost of $65.
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WB2WIK
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« Reply #4 on: April 14, 2003, 03:09:10 PM »

Most anything made by Ten-Tec over the past twenty years or so would also be a good choice; they place a great deal of design emphasis on CW performance and operation and typically have the most seamless full-QSK of about anything on the market (although I personally don't even like QSK operation -- but many do).

I don't like the really old Ten-Tecs, they weren't that great to begin with and haven't aged well.  The original Argonaut, Triton, etc. are, in my opinion, world-class junkers that I very much dislike using (having owned them all!).  But the new products got a lot better over the years.  I currently own a little Ten-Tec SCOUT model 555 (no longer made, but fairly new design, just discontinued a year or so ago).  To change bands, you must remove and insert a "band module," which takes maybe ten seconds to do -- but this eliminates a complicated bandswitch, and kept the rig very small.  It only weighs a few pounds, and runs 50W output power on any band from 1.8 through 29.7 MHz, depending on the installed module.  Its CW performance is absolutely excellent with full or semi-QSK, and it has an IF bandpass filter with adjustable bandwidth down to about 300 Hz, very sharp and easy to live with.  It also has a built-in electronic (iambic mode) keyer as standard, so you only need a paddle to operate CW right out of the box.

I see the SCOUTs on the used market all the time for about $350, and they're well worth it.  Each band module only sold for $29 to $35 each (brand new), so they don't add a lot of cost, and you can buy the modules for only the bands you wish to operate, or have antennas for.

WB2WIK/6
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W3DCG
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« Reply #5 on: April 22, 2003, 07:03:35 PM »

I loved my Lady Corsair to the very end, I'll rejuvinate her when I have time... If you can get one that works well with non sticky PTO, or even a bit sticky she's still wonderful on CW, if she has filters even better...

But they still go for a price about the same as a used great condition IC 718.

Now I've never tried one, but every 718 I've heard on the air has been marvelous.

And it's really simple to use, just like a Corsair.

Unlike a Corsair, you get dual VFOs.  Squelch, if that matters.

If I had to do it over again, placing reliability before flawless QSK, and actually, price- I'd have gone with a 718 for my first rig.  

I still love My Lady-
even tho she's in a coma-

But by the time I figure shipping, repair costs, and the fact that I can not dance with her at the moment, uh... the Icom 718 would have cost significantly less.

I honestly believe with all my heart, If I bought the 718 I'd still be on the air with it while the TS850, formerly a backup to the Corsair (that's how much I loved that radio) is having a thorough look-see/alignment/glitch fix at the Doctor, right now. Instead, I have a pretty comatose Corsair, and a monoband-OHR 40m 1.5W barely QRP radio on the air at the moment.

Learn from my experience.  Roll the dice and play the odds.

Unless you're like me, a bit stubborn at times.

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G3CWI
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« Reply #6 on: May 01, 2003, 12:00:32 PM »

K2 yes. K1 no - great for portable but there are better options for a home-station radio.

73

Richard
G3CWI
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KB9IV
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« Reply #7 on: May 01, 2003, 05:54:16 PM »

I suspect your looking for a xcvr less than $500. I would recommend a fully filtered TS 830S.....doesn't have memories but for general use it's marvelous....don't buy a beat up dog......many nice units for $350-$425.
If your looking for a small QRP rig.......go for the Elecrafts by all means.
The Ten Tec Corsair is a great CW rig as long as it has been referbished by the factory and checked out before you buy.....it requires a DC supply too.
The Yeasu FT 902 is a good rig with filers too......have fun hunting!!

73's  Bill
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WA4DOU
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« Reply #8 on: May 10, 2003, 09:45:50 PM »

FT-990 and IC-751A are two excellent choices.
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K8ML
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« Reply #9 on: May 14, 2003, 12:03:48 PM »

a Ten Tec Corsair II can be had for around $500-$600....beautiful CW rig....I would rather have a Omni V....for around the $600-$800 range.....73 all...ML
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K8ML
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« Reply #10 on: May 14, 2003, 12:38:11 PM »

Pertaing to my last entry...just saw a Omni V on the TT thread for $575....is that mid range enough for ya?....ML
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KY6R
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« Reply #11 on: May 16, 2003, 12:32:51 AM »

Ten Tec Omni V. It compares very well with my TS-2000 as far as sensitivity is concerned, but is quite a bit quieter than the TS-2000.

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KY6R
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« Reply #12 on: May 16, 2003, 12:33:48 AM »

Ten Tec Omni V. It compares very well with my TS-2000 as far as sensitivity is concerned, but is quite a bit quieter than the TS-2000.

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KM3K
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Posts: 324




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« Reply #13 on: June 05, 2003, 02:55:00 PM »

I realize it may not be considered a modest priced radio, but does anyone have comments on the QSK capabilitites of the FT-897. I've read a few reviews both good and bad about it, and would like to find out more about it's performance in that area.

Thanks, Doug
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W5EI
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« Reply #14 on: October 29, 2003, 11:39:13 PM »

In my shack, I have had a Yaesu FT1000D, FT900, Icom IC746, Elecraft K2, and a Kenwood TS2000.  Of all these radios, the K2 has the quietest receiver.  If you intend to work a lot of CW, it is the best of the lot.  It's also great fun to build.

73,

Don  
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