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Author Topic: What factors do you take into account when you buy a rig?  (Read 33915 times)
AD9DX
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« on: July 10, 2013, 06:37:53 AM »

What are the factors you choose when considering a new rig?

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EX, KC9TRM, KB9IRZ
N3HFS
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« Reply #1 on: July 10, 2013, 07:25:04 AM »

Availability, cost, quality, and features.

Possibly one or more others I can't think of right now.
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AD9DX
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« Reply #2 on: July 10, 2013, 07:25:55 AM »

What features?
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EX, KC9TRM, KB9IRZ
W8JX
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« Reply #3 on: July 10, 2013, 07:40:24 AM »

What features?

Features? That is pretty broad. Actually easy of use and reliability should be major factors. Some rigs like yeasu and icon are very menu dependent for normal operations.
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AD9DX
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« Reply #4 on: July 10, 2013, 07:50:21 AM »

Ok I'll start. I am primarily a CW DXer. I do one SSB 160m net a week with some friends, and other than DX contests its the only time I pick up a mic. Here are my criteria.

1. Good narrow filters for contests
2. Second RX to figure out where the DX is listening
3. Easy to use CW memories
4. Ability to use a Pan adaptor
5. Good noise blanker, noise reduction.

Those are my priorities in that order. I am just curious what other people see as important.
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EX, KC9TRM, KB9IRZ
K5TR
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« Reply #5 on: July 10, 2013, 08:05:44 AM »

What are the factors you choose when considering a new rig?

For myself - and I would think most others it comes down to if the rig will do what I need it to do.
Some of those things:
- Decent receiver that sounds good at narrow filter settings. (there are many radios that do this)
- Good speech processor - some high dollar radios do not do this well and need external help.
- Receive antenna input for hooking up beverages or other receive only antennas.
- Good transverter interfacing and selection for VHF/UHF transverters.
- Modest physical size and weight - the FT9000 is just crazy big.
- Affordable.

The reality is that there are many current and past radios that are great.  As much as radio preferences seem to turn into a religious war in forum posts about what radio is best - I have never found a radio that I felt was perfect - they all have one or more problem areas or missing features that make them less than perfect.   My solution has been to find a radio that gets close and then to work around it's short comings - either by adding additional hardware or modifications.  
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George
K5TR
AA4PB
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« Reply #6 on: July 10, 2013, 08:31:11 AM »

IF DSP. With that comes:
1) multiple definable IF filters that can be set for SSB, CW, and various sound card digital modes.
2) filters inside the AGC loop.
3) good noise blanker.
4) good noise reduction.
5) transmit audio equalizer.
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W8JX
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« Reply #7 on: July 10, 2013, 08:34:56 AM »

Ok I'll start. I am primarily a CW DXer. I do one SSB 160m net a week with some friends, and other than DX contests its the only time I pick up a mic. Here are my criteria.

1. Good narrow filters for contests
2. Second RX to figure out where the DX is listening
3. Easy to use CW memories
4. Ability to use a Pan adaptor
5. Good noise blanker, noise reduction.

Those are my priorities in that order. I am just curious what other people see as important.

Having a pan adapter out will limit choices greatly. Many rigs support narrow CW filters whether main or roofing. CW noise reduction is easier to do with CW than SSB too. If you are hard core CW, the K3 is generally viewed as a good choice.
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AD9DX
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Posts: 1481




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« Reply #8 on: July 10, 2013, 10:12:53 AM »

Ok I'll start. I am primarily a CW DXer. I do one SSB 160m net a week with some friends, and other than DX contests its the only time I pick up a mic. Here are my criteria.

1. Good narrow filters for contests
2. Second RX to figure out where the DX is listening
3. Easy to use CW memories
4. Ability to use a Pan adaptor
5. Good noise blanker, noise reduction.

Those are my priorities in that order. I am just curious what other people see as important.

Having a pan adapter out will limit choices greatly. Many rigs support narrow CW filters whether main or roofing. CW noise reduction is easier to do with CW than SSB too. If you are hard core CW, the K3 is generally viewed as a good choice.

I've already made my rig selection.  Just curious why people choose what they do...
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EX, KC9TRM, KB9IRZ
NO2A
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« Reply #9 on: July 10, 2013, 06:28:13 PM »

I would look for a receiver with a low noise floor. Some rigs have too much hiss,or white noise. This is more a problem with modern,not older rigs. I would also spend time with the rig you want at a dealer,test driving it. I`d ask which rig they like for cw or ssb,for example. I`ve always gotten good advice from H.R.O. Ergonomics are important too. It`s really a matter about the radio pleasing you,not somebody else.
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WX7G
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« Reply #10 on: July 11, 2013, 02:42:44 PM »

1) A dedicated CW speed knob or a multi-purpose knob that can be dedicated to CW speed control.

2) High 2 kHz blocking dynamic range and that means a narrow roofing filter. For me this is absolutely necessary for 160 meter CW contesting.

3) IF DSP noise reduction.
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AD9DX
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« Reply #11 on: July 11, 2013, 02:55:44 PM »

1) A dedicated CW speed knob or a multi-purpose knob that can be dedicated to CW speed control.

2) High 2 kHz blocking dynamic range and that means a narrow roofing filter. For me this is absolutely necessary for 160 meter CW contesting.

3) IF DSP noise reduction.

I love me some 160m contesting too.  Grin
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EX, KC9TRM, KB9IRZ
AB4D
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« Reply #12 on: July 11, 2013, 06:13:57 PM »

Wow, that's a broad subject.  First, it has to have a pleasant sounding receiver.  If I am spending hours operating, I don't want to spend time listening to mediocre narrow range audio coming out of the speaker. I don't operate CW, so any rig with really narrow filters and flat audio is out.  If I was a CW op, tight filters would be at the top of my list.

The noise filters need to work, few usually do it well on every type of interference. A good portion of reviews for new rigs seem to always mention the lack of performance of noise filters on a lot of the newer DSP driven rigs. Many hams live in urban areas that are loaded with RFI generating devices.  What good is your new rig if all you hear is a ton of noise pollution from your neighbors?  It's one thing I try to keep mind when trying out a new rig before I purchase.

Aesthetics is another factor.  The radio has to be pleasing to the eye and fun to operate with quick access to often used settings. What fun is it operating a radio if you don't really enjoy using it, and all the setting are a PITA to access because they are buried within layers of menus?

Features and flexibility, the more the better. I believe most hams can be classified as a gadget guy or gal. It's that sort of thing that drives a lot of us into the hobby.  We like to tinker with things and the more stuff we can learn and explore on a rig the better. For base use, if the radio offers a good set of features it certainly can get a look from me.  If the radio doesn't offer a lot it can get boring to use fairly fast.  It's all about your interests in the hobby.

One factor I don't consider too much are the test results from Sherwood and the ARRL.  Its not that I disagree with their testing methods, I just don't like the fact they establish benchmark data based on testing of one sample of a radio.  IMO, testing should include multiple samples.

73
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PD2R
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« Reply #13 on: July 12, 2013, 12:45:43 AM »

One reason I mised so far is serviceability. If I'm going to spend a lot of money on a new rig, I wan't to enjoy it for a long time. And if it does happen to break down on me in the heat of battle and I send it off to get it fixed, I don't want to wait for months before I get it back.   
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WB2WIK
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« Reply #14 on: July 12, 2013, 09:25:59 AM »

I'm late to this party, but having bought, built, traded, sold and operated quite a lot of ham gear over the past 48 years, the things that stand out as very important to me are:

-Physical user interface; that is, the "control panel," and how intuitive and easy it is to use (or not).  A great PUI feature is clustering controls that may be worked in tandem close together to make it easier to do that; another great one is making the most frequently-used controls easy to operate with controls large enough to see and use without taking great care to do that.

-Minimization of operator fatigue: Not so important if you only operate an hour a week, or even an hour a day; but can be really important for contesters who sit in the chair for 24 hours or more with almost no breaks.  A lot of this "minimization" comes from "listenability" of the receiver.  Some receivers sound wonderful in headphones, with minimal hiss, very low distortion, very few or no artifacts, etc; some are very bad in this respect, even though their "bench test" numbers may be fantastic.

-For "new" (modern) gear: Will it pass my "no manual" test?  That is, I try to see if I can actually use the rig, at least on voice and CW, by just looking at it and never once referring to the manual.  With some, I can.  With some, it's nearly impossible.

-Minimal or no "menus."  Most modern well-featured rigs, even those made in 1990, have some sort of menu system.  I prefer it to be minimally invasive; that is, I don't mind a menu for "set and forget, and probably never adjust it again" functions.  But for anything I might want to routinely change, if I have to use a menu to do it -- forget it, I'll look for something else. Wink

-For modern commercially-manufactured gear: Manufacturer reputation for stocking replacement parts for many years post-EOL (end of life) for the equipment.  This is becoming more rare with heavy use of ASICs that once no longer used for production, won't be made by anyone ever again.

I'd place "lab test ratings" below all these factors, personally.

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