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Author Topic: Too many radio choices!  (Read 15167 times)
pmraiders

Posts: 47




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« Reply #15 on: May 02, 2013, 08:13:24 PM »

Hey Scott,

Thanks for your input, that makes a whole lot of sense, the problem is that when I enter into a hobby I usually research to no end then pull the trigger on something new and go from there. I was planning on buying a HF radio tomorrow but I will look into/inquire about the used scene at a saturday breakfast first Smiley Most of the rigs I am looking at were released in 2005-2008 so I don't think there will be any problem finding something used, the problem is that the used ham market is local (and for good reason!) I just need to get hooked into that scene more.

Thanks,
Jordan
KG7DBM
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KF7DS
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Posts: 181




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« Reply #16 on: May 03, 2013, 08:51:51 PM »

KX3 with amp. Most flexibility and best receiver.

Don KF7DS
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NA0AA
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« Reply #17 on: May 14, 2013, 08:21:15 PM »

Hm.  Well, I have an FT-897, and while it's a fine portable radio and a useful 'shack in a box', I suggest you will outgrow it quickly - which is NOT to say that if you can lay your hands on a used one, that it would not be a good buy - esp. if it came with filters added.  I found the performance greatly enhanced by the SSB narrow filters.

However, I don't operate portable nearly as much as I though I would so mine sits mostly unused these days.

You are right about the battery issue - it's much more cost effective to simply buy a seperate AGM/Gell battery for portable use if and when.

I would recommend that you consider something like a dual band FM VHF/UHF radio and a separate HF/6 meter radio.  And buy a base station radio first then if you find yourself really yearning to operate portable, examine your options at that point - a KX3 will make much more sense then.

Taking the radio out of your station to go operate, then have to reinstall it gets old really, really fast.

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W8JX
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« Reply #18 on: May 14, 2013, 09:33:56 PM »

Taking the radio out of your station to go operate, then have to reinstall it gets old really, really fast.

I did not know that a antenna connector and a power plug was that much of a big deal. If I want to grab my 570 there is a antenna, accessory DIN plug for digi and power plug. Takes less than a minute to disconnect and same to reconnect.
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NQ3X
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« Reply #19 on: May 21, 2013, 04:38:27 AM »

My thoughts:

I have a 7000, and prefer it over its Yaesu competitors.  The IF-DSP is simply superior in my opinion to the AF-DSP.  Yes, you can add crystal mechanical filters to the Yaesu models, but once you accessorize the Yaesus to a point where they begin to become competitive with the Icom you start to approach the price point of the Icom out of the box. 

That said, the Yaesus, especially the 897, are eminently more suitable for portable operations than the 7k.  They all run hot, but the 897 stays cooler.  Plus you can get internal batteries for it.

Which radio you prefer depends on a variety of factors.  Your intended use, for one.  My intended use was a small, full-featured radio that would form the centerpiece of a carry-on mini-DXpedition station.  That was in 2008.  If I was going to do it today, it'd be a K3. 

Another consideration is just playing with the things to get a feel for them.  If you have the ability to do so - ham radio store or club members - go and fiddle with them.  The worst thing in the world is to buy a rig because of other considerations then hate using it.

Don't forget the other US manufacturer, too - Ten Tec.  They have a few models that meet your criteria.  The Argonaut is a QRP radio like the 817, but in my opinion vastly simpler and superior performance.  The Eagle is only a little bit larger and gives you the full 100 watts out.  I't actually considering an Eagle for my own shack.  I like the simplicity of the thing compared to the layers of menus and relatively complicated access of those menus on my Icom.

Coax loss is only not a factor when your antennas are resonant.  If you intend to use an antenna tuner in your shack to tune an antenna at the other end of 200' of coax, you may really only be heating up the coax. 

Which leads me to my last thought: All this back and forth about this rig or that rig means positively squat if you don't have an antenna plan.  What kind of rig you have, what features it has, its receiver characteristics, none of that amounts to a hill of beans if you don't have a good antenna with which to receive and transmit signals.  I'd like to hear more about your antenna plan. Smiley

Cheers,

Bob WP2XX
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ZENKI
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Posts: 906




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« Reply #20 on: June 03, 2013, 02:47:09 AM »

Its really simple, buy the radio with the best receiver and transmitter specifications.

Forget the QRP nonsense, its just a road towards frustration and not enjoying ham radio.

I would suggest you get a TS480HX and put all the other money towards a hexbeam and tower/pole.
This combination will give  endless amount of enjoyment without missing anything.
After this a small  600 watt to a 1kw amp will be your next best investment.

If you want to operate mobile just internet remote the above and you can enjoy ham radio sitting in the doctors surgery waiting for your turn.
I have removed my HF mobile setup and now use internet remote from everywhere.

Just remember the first rule for enjoying ham radio is too spend 1 dollar on your radio and 10 dollars on your antenna. The next 10 dollars should be spent on a amplifier. If you change these priorities you will soon lose interest and sit with a pile of toys in boxes doing nothing. To put it simply buy the cheapest bang for buck radio you can get and put  as much into the antenna system.   The only callsigns other hams cant spit from their memories are those with big antenna systems. People with all the best radios feeding a G5RV nobody knows about!


I probably should have purchased the first radio I saw at HRO, but instead I did what I usually do and researched. This research got me from deciding between the FT-817 and FT-857 to consider the FT-897 then looking to the ic-7000 as a more complete solution and finally looking at the KX3 with its 100W amp.

The idea of portable QRP operation intrigues me, but as my first station I also think that I would always wonder what I was missing. Also, the amp option for the KX3 is expected to cost $700... for ~150 more I can get a FT-857.

My shack parameters:
I have tall trees behind the house that I could string an antenna up in. The problem is that anything QRP would likely lose the signal in the feed line. (~200 ft worth of feed to be safe)
My 'shack' would be on the second story so anything ground-mounted would be going down ~16 feet. That being said I can hang things from the eves of the house.
I would like to be able to operate HF portable in some capacity. Think camping, not backpacking, though it would be nice to take a HF radio on the trails.
I currently own a FT-60R as my only radio, so I have HT coverage of 2m and 70cm bands.
I expect to have my General class license this weekend.

Pros/cons to each radio:

KX3 + amp
+portable/base station in one package
+SDR is very appealing as I want to do digital modes and waterfall visualizer makes finding transmissions easy.
-Expensive. The radio equipped with some starting addons is going to run 1200 + ~700 for the amp + antenna tuner for the amp (150 for external, internal will be ~300).
-Features or quality sacrificed for a smaller rig

FT-817ND
+Portable
+Less expensive
-Low power output
-AMP option from THP only puts out 45 watts
-Menu driven so changing options is cumbersome
-Starting to get a little old, she's been out 9 years now.
-Need to add filters and DSP

FT-857
+Powerful rig
+Portable size, though you would have to lug a battery
-Menu driven
-Need to add filters
-DSP isn't that great

FT-897
=Same as FT-857 except bigger footprint and better controls.
=Internal battery pack is cool, but given the price to add it on I would just run external gel-cells
-Need to add filters
-DSP isn't that great

IC-7000
+Color screen and more intuitive controls, less menu driven
-Power draw on receive is the highest out of any of the radios I am looking at. Portable operation would make less sense.
+Better DSP and built in filters, the price difference between this and the YAESU offerings makes sense.

The KX3 is attractive because I can add to it over time as funds allow. The IC-7000 looks good as a solid home radio with portable being questionable, either needing more batteries or tethered to the car. The FT-817nd is lacking the newer sound processing features. The FT-857/897 are also lacking filters and DSP isn't stellar.

If there are any other alternatives that seem to fit my needs, or other less expensive amps that I could consider for the KX3 please let me know. Also, its hard for me to figure out exactly what I'm sacrificing in features by going from a radio like the ic-7000 to the KX3. I guess I am looking for some personal experiences on what to start with, and what to expand to later on. Perhaps I am putting too much weight on DSP and fancy new features. The only information I have is from reviews I have read.

Thanks for reading that mess, I hope you can understand why I'm stuck wanting to buy two or more radios but can only afford one Smiley
Jordan KG7DBM
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WX7G
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« Reply #21 on: June 03, 2013, 05:44:31 AM »

Of your radio choices I have owned the FT-817, FT-857 and the KX3. For receiver performance and ease of operation the KX3 is far and away the winner. It's my only base station radio right now and I plan on using it for many years. It outputs 12 watts on 160-10 meters and 10 watts on 6 meters and this is enough for ragchewing and DXing on CW. My antenna is a 30 foot vertical wire.

Note that the Elecraft 100 watt amplifier is not yet for sale nor has the price been announced.
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NO2A
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« Reply #22 on: June 03, 2013, 11:40:43 AM »

I just spoke to a kind operator on a local repeater who owns an FT-897 (not D) and an ic-7000. What he was saying makes me tend toward the ic-7000 for its sound processing and filters. The only problem is its receive power draw and its less rugged casing. I know w4rt sells DSP and filters for the FT-897D that I will research and take into consideration but I imagine that after those addons it will be right at the price of an ic-7000 and I don't have to mess with shipping a thousand dollars of radio across the USA.


The filters for the `857/897 are snap in,not soldered,if that`s what you meant by shipping. The receive current for the `857 is only 550ma squelched,that`s a big difference over the Icom. The Icom`s do run hotter,even on receive only. I`m assuming the `897 uses the same receive current as the `857. 
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KD2CJJ
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Posts: 369




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« Reply #23 on: June 04, 2013, 10:25:15 AM »

I was in the same situation last year though my priorities were a little different. 

I purchased the ic7000... It's a great rig!  BUT...  I also now own the ftdx3000 and it is far superior.   I though it would be ice to have a portable rig and a decent base. I have never gone portable in the year I have had the 7000... And now with the ftdx3k... It sits on the shelf as a vhf/UHF rig.   I found the 7k to have issues with weak signals and issues with rejection compared to my 3k.   It is also horribly noisy compared to the 3k.  The NB is awesome i have to say.. for sure beats the 3k but the NR is not all that effective when in a high noise environment.  I also found it got very not under heavy use... No contesting here unless its in a well ventilated or fanned environment; it has never overheated though.  It's not all that portable either as it needs at least a 20 amp power supply or deep cycle battery... Plus doesn't have an internal tuner.  No hiking with one of these!

If I were you and portability is a first priority then the kx3 is the way to go.. Runs on batteries, has a builtin wide range tuner, over all superior receive And with an amp it a superior base unit! 
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73

Mike
KD2CJJ
W4HIJ
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Posts: 367




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« Reply #24 on: June 04, 2013, 02:42:08 PM »

I'm not necessarily a huge fan of Elecraft like some folks, my radio of choice is a Flex 1500 as I have no interest in portable operation but I think all the other radios you mention are going to have sub standard RX performance when compared to the KX-3. To get a really good decent RX from the "big three" you have to go up past their low end rigs into the mid level to high end ones. Both the KX-3 and the Flex 1500 will beat the pants off anything remotely near them in price as far as RX performance is concerned. You want portable capability so anything from Flex is impractical therefore I'd go with the KX-3.
73,
Michael, W4HIJ
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W8JX
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Posts: 5488




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« Reply #25 on: June 04, 2013, 04:16:20 PM »

I'm not necessarily a huge fan of Elecraft like some folks, my radio of choice is a Flex 1500 as I have no interest in portable operation but I think all the other radios you mention are going to have sub standard RX performance when compared to the KX-3. To get a really good decent RX from the "big three" you have to go up past their low end rigs into the mid level to high end ones. Both the KX-3 and the Flex 1500 will beat the pants off anything remotely near them in price as far as RX performance is concerned. You want portable capability so anything from Flex is impractical therefore I'd go with the KX-3.
73,
Michael, W4HIJ

I would not be so generous with claims of 1500 receiver being in K3 class as it is wishful thinking at best. Is far as portable with 1500 I see no reason I could not be used with a modern dual cored netbook that would be light weight and have good battery life. No reason you could not package this and a gel cell for 1500 in a easy to carry package.
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W4HIJ
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Posts: 367




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« Reply #26 on: June 05, 2013, 05:25:31 PM »

I'm not necessarily a huge fan of Elecraft like some folks, my radio of choice is a Flex 1500 as I have no interest in portable operation but I think all the other radios you mention are going to have sub standard RX performance when compared to the KX-3. To get a really good decent RX from the "big three" you have to go up past their low end rigs into the mid level to high end ones. Both the KX-3 and the Flex 1500 will beat the pants off anything remotely near them in price as far as RX performance is concerned. You want portable capability so anything from Flex is impractical therefore I'd go with the KX-3.
73,
Michael, W4HIJ

I would not be so generous with claims of 1500 receiver being in K3 class as it is wishful thinking at best. Is far as portable with 1500 I see no reason I could not be used with a modern dual cored netbook that would be light weight and have good battery life. No reason you could not package this and a gel cell for 1500 in a easy to carry package.
I thought we were talking the KX-3. A K3 and a KX-3 are not exactly the same thing are they?  I know the KX-3 has better numbers than the 1500 but I have a friend who owns a KX-3 and in my experience there is not that much difference I can hear between my RX performance and his when we have compared them side by side. At any rate, even if I were to concede the KX-3 is that much better  than the 1500 ( it's not) , the 1500 still blows away any of the low to mid end offerings from Kenwood, Yaesu and Icom. I suffered through years of having to deal with substandard RX's with the low to mid end radios from the "big three" because I couldn't afford the more expensive rigs. The 1500 is an absolute joy compared to them IMHO. I don't want to turn this into a Flex vs. Elecraft argument though so again I just think the OP would be much happier with the KX-3 RX rather than something like a Yaesu FT-857.
73,
Michael, W4HIJ
« Last Edit: June 05, 2013, 05:47:47 PM by W4HIJ » Logged
W8JX
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Posts: 5488




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« Reply #27 on: June 05, 2013, 07:44:16 PM »

[quote author=W4HIJ link=topic=89730.msg678569#msg678569 , the 1500 still blows away any of the low to mid end offerings from Kenwood, Yaesu and Icom. I suffered through years of having to deal with substandard RX's with the low to mid end radios from the "big three" because I couldn't afford the more expensive rigs. The 1500 is an absolute joy compared to them IMHO. I don't want to turn this into a Flex vs. Elecraft argument though so again I just think the OP would be much happier with the KX-3 RX rather than something like a Yaesu FT-857.
73,
Michael, W4HIJ
[/quote]

Again not sure how you back up this claim. Even Sherwood does not rate 1500 receiver not even close to a TS590 and old 830 beats it in several areas and 480 smokes 1500 on noise floor. If you like it great but to suggest it is better than many is not accurate.
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WX7G
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« Reply #28 on: June 06, 2013, 03:33:17 AM »

The differences in receivers can matter during crowded contest conditions. CW contests, especially 160 meter CW contests, are where Narrow Spaced Dynamic Range matters and this is how the receivers are ranked in the Sherwood Engineering receiver test data.

http://www.sherweng.com/table.html

For example, the KX3 is ranked #2 while the Flex-1500 is ranked #13 with 16 dB less narrow spaced dynamic range and 30 dB less 100 kHz Blocking. Note that the #1 radio, the Hilberling PT-8000A, was never produced and sold.
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W4HIJ
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Posts: 367




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« Reply #29 on: June 06, 2013, 10:11:53 AM »

[quote author=W4HIJ link=topic=89730.msg678569#msg678569 , the 1500 still blows away any of the low to mid end offerings from Kenwood, Yaesu and Icom. I suffered through years of having to deal with substandard RX's with the low to mid end radios from the "big three" because I couldn't afford the more expensive rigs. The 1500 is an absolute joy compared to them IMHO. I don't want to turn this into a Flex vs. Elecraft argument though so again I just think the OP would be much happier with the KX-3 RX rather than something like a Yaesu FT-857.
73,
Michael, W4HIJ

Again not sure how you back up this claim. Even Sherwood does not rate 1500 receiver not even close to a TS590 and old 830 beats it in several areas and 480 smokes 1500 on noise floor. If you like it great but to suggest it is better than many is not accurate.

[/quote]
 I back it up by real world experience. Sherwood numbers are nice but they are not the be all end all. I've owned many of the low end Japanese radios over the years and I also worked in the retail end of ham radio where I got to see and hear every shiny new Kenwood, Yaesu and Icom that came in the door.  You just don't get a good RX from them until you get up into their high end radios.  A lot depends on how you define "good" too and what's important to you.  The Yaesu 450 would fatigue me after listening to it more than about an hour, same with the Kenwood 450 and then the Kenwood 480 and I've never had any Icom radio that I really cared for the RX on. I can listen to my 1500 for hours on end without fatigue and the filters put anything else I've had near that price range to shame as well. Being able to listen to a radio without
"listener fatigue" is important to me. Maybe it's not to you. The whole argument is subjective anyway. The 1500 beats the low end Japanese offerings hands down in the things I find important. So does the KX-3. I do not wish to argue the point any further as far as the Flex so again I'll just tell the OP that I think he would be much happier with the RX performance of the KX-3 rather than with any of the low end Japanese rigs. Have a nice day OK?
73,
Michael, W4HIJ
« Last Edit: June 06, 2013, 10:13:54 AM by W4HIJ » Logged
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