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eHam Forums => Mobile Ham => Topic started by: KJ1H on August 20, 2012, 06:21:12 PM



Title: Inexpensive mobile HF rigs?
Post by: KJ1H 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. :)

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.)


Title: RE: Inexpensive mobile HF rigs?
Post by: N5VTU 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.



Title: RE: Inexpensive mobile HF rigs?
Post by: W8JX 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.


Title: RE: Inexpensive mobile HF rigs?
Post by: GREGWTH7MMMAG 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. 


Title: RE: Inexpensive mobile HF rigs?
Post by: AC4RD 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!


Title: RE: Inexpensive mobile HF rigs?
Post by: KJ1H 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...


Title: RE: Inexpensive mobile HF rigs?
Post by: N6AJR 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.


Title: RE: Inexpensive mobile HF rigs?
Post by: W7HBP 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.


Title: RE: Inexpensive mobile HF rigs?
Post by: KG4RUL 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.


Title: RE: Inexpensive mobile HF rigs?
Post by: W9MMS 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.


Title: RE: Inexpensive mobile HF rigs?
Post by: ZENKI 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.


Title: RE: Inexpensive mobile HF rigs?
Post by: W8JX 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.


Title: RE: Inexpensive mobile HF rigs?
Post by: KD5TXX 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.


Title: RE: Inexpensive mobile HF rigs?
Post by: W8JX 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.


Title: RE: Inexpensive mobile HF rigs?
Post by: W9MMS 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.




Title: RE: Inexpensive mobile HF rigs?
Post by: W8JX on August 25, 2012, 04:53:29 PM
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"

I understand but for a few hundred more you can get a much better and newer radio that is still rasy to get parts for to if need be. a 20+ year old TS50 could become a door stop if it fails from age or you  farm it out for repairs it it cost more total than a newer rig would have cost to begin with.


Title: RE: Inexpensive mobile HF rigs?
Post by: NA4IT on August 26, 2012, 04:34:06 AM
Icom IC-7000 = $1300
Kenwood TS-480SAT = $975
Yaesu FT-857D = $830

New, from Universal Radio.

As for the used Icom IC-706MKIIG, I WOULD NOT consider it. The finals are no longer available.


Title: RE: Inexpensive mobile HF rigs?
Post by: AC4RD on August 26, 2012, 05:48:37 AM
Justin said in his original message that he was looking for a used rig, not a new one.  By now he may have been to the hamfest and soon we'll find out if he found something!  :)   Justin, if you didn't find anything you liked at the hamfest this weekend, keep an eye on your local classified ads, craigslist, local ham clubs "for sale" websites.  I don't know about your area, but I see bargains show up every month or 6 weeks around here.  You ought to be able to find something relatively recent for $350-$500, if your area is like mine.  The 857, the Alincos, etc.  And personally, I wouldn't be scared of a 706; mine is 9 years old and has outlived 2 cars so far.  ;)   73 GL!    ken ac4rd


Title: RE: Inexpensive mobile HF rigs?
Post by: W9MMS on August 26, 2012, 07:35:48 AM
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"

I understand but for a few hundred more you can get a much better and newer radio that is still rasy to get parts for to if need be. a 20+ year old TS50 could become a door stop if it fails from age or you  farm it out for repairs it it cost more total than a newer rig would have cost to begin with.
John, which part of Justin's post you can't comprehend?
Justin states very clearly, that he is working with a "restricted budget".
He also states very clearly, the parameters of his interest ..... >>>>  I'm thinking more like an IC-706, FT-100D, TS-50, DX-70 - older radios like those. <<<<
Do you think if he had " a few hundred more " he would be soliciting our opinions?
My point here is all too often we, myself included, go off on tangents, and get the waters muddy.


(((73))) Milverton.


Title: RE: Inexpensive mobile HF rigs?
Post by: W8JX on August 26, 2012, 07:47:33 AM
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"

I understand but for a few hundred more you can get a much better and newer radio that is still rasy to get parts for to if need be. a 20+ year old TS50 could become a door stop if it fails from age or you  farm it out for repairs it it cost more total than a newer rig would have cost to begin with.
John, which part of Justin's post you can't comprehend?
Justin states very clearly, that he is working with a "restricted budget".
He also states very clearly, the parameters of his interest ..... >>>>  I'm thinking more like an IC-706, FT-100D, TS-50, DX-70 - older radios like those. <<<<
Do you think if he had " a few hundred more " he would be soliciting our opinions?
My point here is all too often we, myself included, go off on tangents, and get the waters muddy.


(((73))) Milverton.

I understand everything but once again given the age of a TS50, lack of replacement parts because of its age and a greater likely hood of failure because of age it could be money down toilet. For same money or less he would do better  with a bigger mobile rig. You need to remember that I am a Kenwood guy by default but the TS50 and TS 2000 are rigs and I never embraced. The 480 is what the the 50 should have been.


Title: RE: Inexpensive mobile HF rigs?
Post by: N5UD on September 02, 2012, 02:25:04 AM
Likely too late for my comment to have any bearing. I use a TS-480. Prior to using the 480 I used a TS-450. I found it to be a good radio. The same one I had since the 90's when they were new.

Last night on a one hour drive home I worked about 15 JA's on 15M SSB. Nearly all one call. Many surprised to be working a mobile in AA contest.

73 Tony N5UD /M


Title: RE: Inexpensive mobile HF rigs?
Post by: N5VTU on September 02, 2012, 11:15:23 AM


As for the used Icom IC-706MKIIG, I WOULD NOT consider it. The finals are no longer available.

The original SRFJ7044 final used in the IC-706MKIIG crosses to a Mitsubishi RD70HVF1 and is very much still available.  Quick Google search showed a number of sources, including RF Parts.  If you find a IC-706MKIIG in good shape that's in your price range, there's no reason to be afraid of it.


Title: RE: Inexpensive mobile HF rigs?
Post by: AA4HA on October 03, 2012, 12:34:56 PM
I am in the process of replacing an FT-100d (still works fine, no PA problems, all of the fan and grounding mods done) with a FT-857d (when the store gets off their collective $$$'es and ship it). The FT-100d was a very good radio in it's day and for a while I swapped it out for an FT-8900r but I "miss" SSB. I will keep both in the car and install a switching relay for the antenna lead that also dumps the DC supply on the inactive radio (maybe even a crossover relay so I can steer the inactive radio into a dummy load to keep the front end nice and isolated on the powered down radio). [the FT-8900r and the FT-857d].

With the older rigs like the FT-100d there were some "cursed soldiers" (cursed solder <lol>) that had problems with the early PA's, cooling and grounding on the RF deck. Now people only seem to fry the survivors by doing something crazy (like not using an automatic antenna tuner) or just plain-ol bad luck.

It is rare to find a FT-100d with the remote head kit, on the FT-100d forum they are going for a few hundred $ if you insist on remote mounting the head (I would make my own bracket). Since it is an older radio there is a soldered in lithium coin battery that is a "pain" to get at (there are a few vertically mounted logic boards at the front of the radio and the coin battery is mounted on the CPU board).

The "market" on the FT-100d is odd, there still is a very active users community on the little radio. The radio can demand a few hundred $ for the much valued PA's. People who are '100d fans are a little obsessive(possessive). I do not know what I will end up doing with mine, it seems I get radios and keep them forever (like the dozen or so Motorola Spectra's).


Title: RE: Inexpensive mobile HF rigs?
Post by: WA4UF on October 15, 2012, 01:22:51 PM
Yeah, we do tend to be obsessive/possessive/clingy.  I'm still hanging on to my -100; the 857's just not all that operable a radio while you're tooling down the highway, especially if you have big fingers.  And in a side-by-side I did some years back, the 706IIg didn't have near the VHF sensitivity (I'm a 6m nut), or NB and DSP capability of the -100.  My only worry is that nearly-irreplacable VHF final.  I'm starting to get thermal issues on transmit on 2m FM.

To the OP:  You're running a Crown Viccy?  I'd think the TS-130 and followons wouldn't be too terribly large given the cavernous interior of that car.  :)   I'd seriously consider a TS-430S or -440SAT.   I see the later model small Kenwoods like that going for under $400 at Orlando every year; I'm often tempted to pick up a spare, shrinkwrap it, and stuff it in a closet just to have on hand.


Title: RE: Inexpensive mobile HF rigs?
Post by: KJ1H on October 16, 2012, 03:05:52 PM
Not quite enough room between the front bucket seats for the TS-130, which I sold earlier this year anyway.

I ended up picking up an Alinco DX-70, plus the EDX-2 tuner to go with it. Unfortunately, I'm having issues, which I may post about in another thread. But that was the end result. I'm liking the way the rig operates - all the features I want, yet still easy to use without a lot of bells and whistles.


Title: RE: Inexpensive mobile HF rigs?
Post by: N6AIR on March 03, 2016, 10:41:13 PM
I am running a TS-120S as a mobile.

It's relatively large for a mobile rig but I have a lot of room in my van.

Using a Hamstick antenna, I consistently get good reports.

This cost me about $200 off of eBay.

I'd get a newer, smaller rig but this one works great so why should I?



Title: RE: Inexpensive mobile HF rigs?
Post by: KK4YDR on March 03, 2016, 11:21:05 PM
Galaxy 979

Ok im kidding ..

A good used Yaesu FT-857D is about as good as it gets in the inexpensive category.


Title: RE: Inexpensive mobile HF rigs?
Post by: KC8MWG on March 09, 2016, 04:51:05 PM
I picked up a Kenwood TS-120S cheap, and I am quite happy with it.


Title: RE: Inexpensive mobile HF rigs?
Post by: K0BG on March 10, 2016, 05:58:51 AM
What is the matter with a brand-new Alinco DX8? At under $460 delivered, it isn't fancy, and it doesn't have VHF. But it is remotable, and comes with a mobile mounting bracket.


Title: RE: Inexpensive mobile HF rigs?
Post by: ONAIR on March 10, 2016, 10:30:10 AM
Galaxy 979

Ok im kidding ..

A good used Yaesu FT-857D is about as good as it gets in the inexpensive category.
   At least you didn't say Uniden 980!!  :)