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Author Topic: Inexpensive mobile HF rigs?  (Read 9638 times)
KJ1H
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« on: August 20, 2012, 06:21:12 PM »

It's time. Boxboro is this weekend, and I'm going there to hopefully find an inexpensive HF rig for the car.  Inexpensive meaning not new, since I can't afford an FT-857 and the like.  I'm thinking more like an IC-706, FT-100D, TS-50, DX-70 - older radios like those.  They're still newer than the TS-130 I've used on HF for my entire ham career, and will still feel like a major upgrade. Smiley

Are there any other similar models I should consider and keep an eye out for?  Though some of these have a detachable head, that's not really an issue for me, since my car has plenty of room for radios.  I also don't need 144/440 capability, since I already have a TM-621A for 144/220 that I like very much, and I never seem to use 440.  (I know some of the radios I listed have one or both of these features anyway.)
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73 - Justin
N5VTU
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« Reply #1 on: August 20, 2012, 06:35:34 PM »

Your list looks reasonable to me with the exception of the IC-706.  I would not buy that one, but instead opt for an IC-706 MKIIG.  The original IC-706 uses a final amplifier that is no longer available.  You could end up with a paperweight in a hurry if your final went south.

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W8JX
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« Reply #2 on: August 20, 2012, 10:18:57 PM »

While not compact you could consider a TS-140. it is a big step from a 130 and has a decent NB in it and a pretty decent receiver too. I have used one mobile on and off for over 20 years now. Very sturdy/reliable rig too.
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GREGWTH7MMMAG
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« Reply #3 on: August 21, 2012, 06:16:27 AM »

There is also the Alinco SR8T, fairly cheap new, however I can not attest to how good it really is. 
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KD0PWN
AC4RD
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« Reply #4 on: August 21, 2012, 09:19:02 AM »

I've had the same 706iig in my car for 9 years and it's been a fine radio, but it seems to me that the 706 is still selling for a little more (used) than some comparable radios.  I see used 857s at attractive prices now and then, especially ones with a few dots missing on the display screen.  And ones like the TS-50 and the Alincos also show up at nice prices pretty regularly.

And you don't NEED a dedicated "mobile" rig, either.  Something like an 897 or an FT-840 isn't as easy to fit into a car, but if you get a good price on one in good shape, it'll get you on the road!  Finding one that works, at a price you are happy with, is probably more important that specific models.

When I rode to the Dayton Hamfest with a pal in 1993, we had a huge old Yaesu taking up most of the back seat of his tiny Toyota.  :-)  It worked fine and we had fun with it!

73 GL!  Mobile HF is a world of fun!
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KJ1H
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« Reply #5 on: August 21, 2012, 10:43:39 AM »

Thanks for the input! I'll take the original IC-706 off my list. No need for a paperweight. And I'm open to the random oddball deal that may fall into my lap, like an FT-857 with a couple of dead pixels and such.

I enjoyed mobile HF last fall with my HTX-10. It gave me a good taste of the fun. Then 10 faded away, which is my incentive to upgrade the rig and expand my band options!

I have a bit of room in my Crown Vic ex-police car for radios, but not enough for anything too big. That's why I sold my TS-130 to finance a newer, smaller rig for the car - the TS-130 would've been too big for my needs. But hopefully someday I'll have a home where I can set up decent HF antennas. Not being able to now is why i tried HF mobile in the first place. The question then will be whether to pull the HF rig out of the car or buy an additional rig...
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73 - Justin
N6AJR
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« Reply #6 on: August 21, 2012, 10:57:45 AM »

FT 857 d.  New  under 800 bucks and used for around $500 or so.  I have on in the car and on in the truck and am happy with both. all band all mode, and solid as a rock, with a alphabetical menu. if used with an ATAS 120 antenna ( $300 new, 100 or so used) you can autotune from 440 mhz to 40 m mobile.  I like it.
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W7HBP
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« Reply #7 on: August 21, 2012, 06:06:49 PM »

I always thought the Alinco DX-SR8T/E was a real nice radio. My first ham radio was an Alinco 2 meter, still have it put away. Nice clean working unit. Alinco's deserve more attention. They are a quality Japanese made unit.
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KG4RUL
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« Reply #8 on: August 21, 2012, 08:49:32 PM »

I am using an Alinco DX-SR8T as a mobile in my suburban.  Using the separation kit, I have the chassis mounted under the second row seats and the head on the console.  I have also added a Gap Hear-It speaker.  My antenna is a Lil Tarheel II on an edge mount on the tailgate.  I also use the Ameritron remote SWR/wattmeter and the MFJ screwdriver controller.
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W9MMS
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« Reply #9 on: August 22, 2012, 05:26:04 PM »

My vote is the Kenwood TS 50. It is still a good radio, and can be acquired for around $425 to $450.00
You'll find that there are still a good amount of TS 50 being used today, and they are relatively trouble free.

(((73))) Milverton.
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ZENKI
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« Reply #10 on: August 24, 2012, 01:25:45 AM »

Stretch your budget a bit and get a TS480HX. It has a good receiver and unmatched flexibility(remote, high power, and base station use)

The 200 watts is really worth the "only 3db", you basically wont have much need for any amplifier.  The 3db in most cases can make a average antenna work like best effort antenna using 100 watts.
You work out the costs and installation complexity of something like a Scorpion screwdriver versus  the costs of installing a simple hamstick or some other mobile antenna. The extra 100 watts make a semi crap antenna play well.

The noise blanker works great, the receiver is great and the DSP noise reduction on it works. The VOX even works in a mobile with speech processing!
You also get good all round Kenwood  TX audio. Not the raspy sound you get from the cheap mobile radios. The worst one is the IC7000 with its robotic sound.

Anyway the TS480HX is the best mobile rig in my opinion, especially with 200 watts. I have a Henry 1kw mobile amp that never gets used anymore!
If you get the remote rig interface you can even operate mobile via the internet, thats a thrill as well.  Just unplug the front panel and away you go on holiday with full rig access.

The TS480HX has unmatched flexibility and convenience. After the this radio  the small do everything radios are much of a muchness with nothing special about any of them. They do everything badly as each other. Crap receivers, poor noise blankers and terrible TX IMD. They are all very voltage sensitive. I wonder when a mobile radio manufacturer is actually going to build in  a noise free DC to DC converter into a radio.
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W8JX
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« Reply #11 on: August 24, 2012, 02:02:37 PM »

My vote is the Kenwood TS 50. It is still a good radio, and can be acquired for around $425 to $450.00
You'll find that there are still a good amount of TS 50 being used today, and they are relatively trouble free.

(((73))) Milverton.

While I am a Kenwood man I would not vote for TS-50. It is getting pretty long in the tooth and not very selective either. For a few hundred more you can get a used TS480 and it is WAY ahead of the 50.
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KD5TXX
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« Reply #12 on: August 24, 2012, 07:37:20 PM »

I'm currently running a 857 only because my TS-50 won't fit in my car.   TS-50 is a GREAT rig.
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W8JX
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« Reply #13 on: August 25, 2012, 05:50:32 AM »

 TS-50 is a GREAT rig.

Maybe it was 20+ years ago when there was very few small rigs to choose from but not today.
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W9MMS
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« Reply #14 on: August 25, 2012, 09:30:03 AM »

My vote is the Kenwood TS 50. It is still a good radio, and can be acquired for around $425 to $450.00
You'll find that there are still a good amount of TS 50 being used today, and they are relatively trouble free.

(((73))) Milverton.

While I am a Kenwood man I would not vote for TS-50. It is getting pretty long in the tooth and not very selective either. For a few hundred more you can get a used TS480 and it is WAY ahead of the 50.

John, my choice of the TS 50 is in response to the header " INEXPENSIVE MOBILE HF RIGS"
Add a "few hundred more" as you put it, (going cost for a 480 sat used is around $700.00) is no longer "INEXPENSIVE"
Please go back to the Original Question, and his desire of

>>>Inexpensive meaning not new, since I can't afford an FT-857 and the like. <<<  end of quote.

(((73))) Milverton.


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