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eHam Forums => Station Building => Topic started by: AD9DX on July 10, 2013, 06:37:53 AM



Title: What factors do you take into account when you buy a rig?
Post by: AD9DX on July 10, 2013, 06:37:53 AM
What are the factors you choose when considering a new rig?



Title: RE: What factors do you take into account when you buy a rig?
Post by: N3HFS 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.


Title: RE: What factors do you take into account when you buy a rig?
Post by: AD9DX on July 10, 2013, 07:25:55 AM
What features?


Title: RE: What factors do you take into account when you buy a rig?
Post by: W8JX 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.


Title: RE: What factors do you take into account when you buy a rig?
Post by: AD9DX 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.


Title: RE: What factors do you take into account when you buy a rig?
Post by: K5TR 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.  


Title: RE: What factors do you take into account when you buy a rig?
Post by: AA4PB 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.


Title: RE: What factors do you take into account when you buy a rig?
Post by: W8JX 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.


Title: RE: What factors do you take into account when you buy a rig?
Post by: AD9DX 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...


Title: RE: What factors do you take into account when you buy a rig?
Post by: NO2A 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.


Title: RE: What factors do you take into account when you buy a rig?
Post by: KH6AQ 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.


Title: RE: What factors do you take into account when you buy a rig?
Post by: AD9DX 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.  ;D


Title: RE: What factors do you take into account when you buy a rig?
Post by: AB4D 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


Title: RE: What factors do you take into account when you buy a rig?
Post by: PD2R 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.   


Title: RE: What factors do you take into account when you buy a rig?
Post by: WB2WIK 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. ;)

-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.



Title: RE: What factors do you take into account when you buy a rig?
Post by: KD8MJR on July 12, 2013, 04:00:25 PM
It all depends on how much money I have available to spend.

Under $1000
I am looking at something like the 857D

Under $4000
I want something that sounds goods, has a nice receiver that does not stress my ears, I also want as many QRN and QRM fighting tools as I can get my hands on.  That includes DSP chips, Twin Band Pass, Roofing filters and a good Noise Blanker.

Next comes Ergonomics.  If it's not comfortable to use whats the point!   I want all my day to day buttons and Knobs right in front of me in a logical layout.  I want it to be intuitive, I don't want to be pulling out a booklet to find out how to do something!   I also want as many other customization features as they can pack, just so long as they are in easy to access menus.  I would rather have a feature that I might never use than to not have it and one day need it.

Dual Receivers or at least Dual Watch.  That's a must have item because its a very handy tool for pileups.

If I had over $8000 to spend:
So long as it receives well and has good Tx Audio then I say Bring it on!  All the bells and whistles, I will take it all but I do prefer if its not all in my face and gets too confusing.

As stated by others and now well known by the OP, I don't regard the Test results by Sherwood or QST as anything important in my decision making.  I think it's much smarter to listen to a radio before buying it or read reviews and watch as many youtube video reviews as you can find.



Title: RE: What factors do you take into account when you buy a rig?
Post by: K1WJ on July 15, 2013, 12:47:00 PM
Value in price of radio
Digital Voice Recorder
200 watts standard output
DSP Noise Functions
Good RCVR specs.
Standard 8-pin plug
Analog Meter
All Mode

73 K1WJ David


Title: RE: What factors do you take into account when you buy a rig?
Post by: AD9DX on July 15, 2013, 01:18:27 PM
Value in price of radio
Digital Voice Recorder
200 watts standard output
DSP Noise Functions
Good RCVR specs.
Standard 8-pin plug
Analog Meter
All Mode

73 K1WJ David


Those features describe my last rig... I had a Yaesu FT-2000D. I loved everything about that rig except the selectivity on CW. If I could have afforded the FTDX-5000 I would have gone with it, I loved the looks of my 2000.

But then I remember, the planned obselence of Japanese rigs, and am glad I went a different direction. It seems, all but the FTDX-5000MP are already discontinued.


Title: RE: What factors do you take into account when you buy a rig?
Post by: W7KKK on July 24, 2013, 11:45:33 AM
1. Features I need/want vs. the budget at the time.
2. If it's used how hard are parts to come by.
3. If it's a small rig is there enough room for my larger/older hands to work on it?
4. Minimum of menus to deal with and knobs that replace primary functions like the older radios.

I prefer larger radios personally.


Title: RE: What factors do you take into account when you buy a rig?
Post by: K7LA on July 25, 2013, 02:23:51 PM
Dual receivers. 
Blocking dynamic range.
Noise filtering capability.


Title: RE: What factors do you take into account when you buy a rig?
Post by: K9MHZ on July 27, 2013, 07:04:03 AM
Ditto on the noise filtering.  Also, the noise floor figures.  Always amazes me the differences in receivers even within a single manufacturer's line.  Nothing worse that getting the crap beaten out of you from a noisy receiver.



Title: RE: What factors do you take into account when you buy a rig?
Post by: W2WDX on September 07, 2013, 02:45:47 PM
For me it's pretty simple.

If its new I get away from knob twiddling and use SDR.

If its old, build quality and performance in that order.

If its very old, build quality and condition.

SDR is what I use for DX work (I don't waste my time contesting, I don't need awards to validate my station or my operation. I like conversation) If I am in the mood for firing up some tubes, then it's the Collins KWS-1 and 75A-4.

BTW, my antennas are much more important, you could own the perfect station with the best radios but if you can't get out or hear, what's the point. I know that on my antennas I can hear and be heard well with a stock ol' beat up FT-101 (and no ... I no longer have a 101).

John, W2WDX


Title: RE: What factors do you take into account when you buy a rig?
Post by: K8GU on September 09, 2013, 05:37:23 AM
I spend my ham funds very carefully on new (to me) radios.  I don't adopt early.  I see what my peer operators (mostly contesters and DXpeditioners) are using.  I try those radios.  In the past, I tried them under fire in multioperator contest environments.  Now, that I have a family and am doing less of that, it's a matter of trying out whenever.  If it's used, I buy a radio that was "good" when it was new.  I buy for the long-term.  If I'm spending more than 500-1000 USD on a radio, I want to keep it for 5, 10, 20 years.  The radio has to be easy to operate under pressure and for long periods.  I tested the K3 in this regard by taking it to a somewhat rare IOTA (NA-039) the first week I owned it.  It passed.  I am setup for SO2R in contests.  I do not demand symmetry.  One of the radios has to be DXpedition-worthy.  My second radio is a TS-930S loaded with 4 Inrad filters (2 SSB + 2 CW) and the roofing filter.  It sounds good and has wonderful group delay characteristics that help separate callers in a pileup.  Great for running Europe in ARRL DX CW, etc, when I get pileups from home.  I can and do repair the 930 myself.  I believe that Elecraft will continue to support the K3 for at least another 5 years, if not longer, as long as they can maintain parts stock.  So, that was important also.  Basically everything that K5TR and WB2WIK said...


Title: RE: What factors do you take into account when you buy a rig?
Post by: KC0KEK on September 10, 2013, 06:49:52 PM
In no particular order:

Power. I don't want the additional cost of an amp, so one reason why I bought the Icom 7700 is because it's 200 W, which is plenty for my needs.

Reputation and reviews. Does the PA have a tendency to die young? Are the menus Byzantine? Any quirks that are tough to live with on a daily basis? How is the vendor's support?

Receive audio. Another reason why I bought the Icom 7700. The Kenwood TS-570SG is a fantastic rig, but I never could get the receive audio sounding as rich and natural as my Icom R70.


Title: RE: What factors do you take into account when you buy a rig?
Post by: PA1ZP on September 23, 2013, 09:16:32 AM
Hi all

I would take in consideration:
1 Durability
2 RX audio and TX audio in both CW as SSB.
3 RX quality in close in spacing and on crowded bands.
4 Build quality and bugs, every rig has its good and bad points, can the good points overcome the bad points.
5 Easyness and comphort in use.
6 Is the radio complete or do I need a lot of extras like filters, microphone, etc.
7 Is the rig compatible with my amplifier or my tuner or my auto antenna switch or my noise cannceler.
Though almost every rig I had did this OK.

And ofcourse i do not have to tell you that the most fantastic rig will work very bad when the antenna isn't up for its job.
Better a what cheaper rig on a good antenna as vice versa.

73 Jos



Title: RE: What factors do you take into account when you buy a rig?
Post by: KB2WIG on September 23, 2013, 09:23:23 AM
1) Can I get it into the house?
2) Will the wife find out?
3) Watt is the price?
4) Can I hide it from the wife?
5) Will it pass the #2 test?


klc

FWIW, I ask myself if the money would be better spent on antenna projects, as multiple ops pointed out.


Title: RE: What factors do you take into account when you buy a rig?
Post by: KC0KEK on September 23, 2013, 09:43:32 AM
1) Can I get it into the house?
2) Will the wife find out?
3) Watt is the price?
4) Can I hide it from the wife?
5) Will it pass the #2 test?

+1


Title: RE: What factors do you take into account when you buy a rig?
Post by: AD9DX on September 23, 2013, 03:51:19 PM
1) Can I get it into the house?
2) Will the wife find out?
3) Watt is the price?
4) Can I hide it from the wife?
5) Will it pass the #2 test?

+1

I guess I am really lucky... if I can afford it, the wife does not care one bit.  However she really likes my K3 so if I was to sell it I think she might be a bit sad.  I guess she was excited for me when I got it. 


Title: RE: What factors do you take into account when you buy a rig?
Post by: KC0KEK on September 23, 2013, 04:30:42 PM
if I can afford it, the wife does not care one bit.  

Same here, fortunately.


Title: RE: What factors do you take into account when you buy a rig?
Post by: AD9DX on September 24, 2013, 11:59:17 AM
if I can afford it, the wife does not care one bit.  

Same here, fortunately.

I hear all of the stories about hams who have to sneak stuff in and I think... Why would you want to be married to someone like that?


Title: RE: What factors do you take into account when you buy a rig?
Post by: N4TTS on September 25, 2013, 10:45:25 AM
I hear all of the stories about hams who have to sneak stuff in and I think... Why would you want to be married to someone like that?

Or married to a woman you refer to as "the wife". Sounds like an object of disdain, not a true friend you wouldn't want to live without.

Strange isn't it? Grown a$$ men sneaking around to do something they enjoy, talking about radios they love but supposed life partners with whom they can't be honest.

Don N4TTS


Title: RE: What factors do you take into account when you buy a rig?
Post by: AB4O on September 29, 2013, 06:08:38 AM
No, Don. My wife bought me my current all Ten-Tec Omni VI+ setup years ago. I as a new ham said, that will be the last radio I will ever need. Silly, ham tricks are for kids. Check that up as stupid in my book.


Title: RE: What factors do you take into account when you buy a rig?
Post by: AD9DX on October 03, 2013, 07:22:49 PM
I think the key is to make sure her hobbies are funded to a level acceptable to her also.

The only time I caught crap for buying a piece of gear was when on a whim I bought a broken to heck Alpha 76a at Dayton. I caught crap because I left the transformer on the kitchen table and she tried to move it and scratched the table. She said, "do they make those things heavy so you boys feel macho"?  I said yup and it worked  :D


Title: RE: What factors do you take into account when you buy a rig?
Post by: KD8MJR on October 04, 2013, 04:19:48 PM
if I can afford it, the wife does not care one bit.  

Same here, fortunately.

I hear all of the stories about hams who have to sneak stuff in and I think... Why would you want to be married to someone like that?

Because that's how the best Marriages work!  It's all a question of checks and balances.  If my wife was not watching me I would go out and probably buy a 990 or Icom 7800 but she keeps me from acting on my impulses.  Same thing in the other direction, she would love to buy a lot of things for the house or for herself but she knows I am watching so she does what she can get away with just like me.  I have had friends who got married to women that had the same compulsive spending habits as them and these women didn't care one bit what the man spent, so long as they could also buy what they wanted.  Well a few years later in most cases it was Bankruptcy and divorce in  some only divorce when the woman realized the money and fun was running out.


Title: RE: What factors do you take into account when you buy a rig?
Post by: W4KVW on October 15, 2013, 09:13:01 AM
I usually make sure that it says,"ICOM" on it & for sure at all cost that it does not say,"YAESU" on it.The last couple of Yaesu rigs have been nothing but garbage.Kenwoods have been just fine as have a couple of Alinco dual band rigs. {:>)  }:>)   ;D

Clayton
W4KVW


Title: RE: What factors do you take into account when you buy a rig?
Post by: WB8VLC on October 21, 2013, 09:44:08 PM
My wife bought me my TS690 and FT100D but when I buy a radio anymore I look for under 100 dollars and working but that's only cuz I'm a tightwad and she always challenges me on it.  Now I heard of one ham who whenever he brought a new radio home he walked in backwards just in case his wife caught him he would tell her he was just on his way out of the house to get rid of this old radio.


Title: RE: What factors do you take into account when you buy a rig?
Post by: KB6HRT on October 22, 2013, 08:10:14 PM
What it is going to be used for what other equipment will work with it does it have any type of timers in it how quite is the receive how big are the tuning knobs, how hot does it stay when in service for many hours how loud is the cooling fan or fans what color is the radio and the displays and can they be dimmed! AND mostly how the RECEIVE sounds!............KB6HRT


Title: RE: What factors do you take into account when you buy a rig?
Post by: KB2FCV on October 23, 2013, 08:45:01 AM
I think it all depends on how you are using it. If it's going to sit in the shack 99% of the time, I want all my most frequently used controls on a button or knob of some sort. I don't want to have to go into a menu to adjust my cw speed or my power level, etc. I've seen and used a regular hf sized rigs that you need to adjust frequently used functions in a menu and that is nothing short of annoying. If its something I am taking portable / battery powered I look at current drain / battery life. It needs to take alkalines.. you can buy those anywhere. Of course specs, etc are important too.


Title: RE: What factors do you take into account when you buy a rig?
Post by: W6UV on October 30, 2013, 02:51:13 PM
My wife bought me an FTdx-5000 for Christmas last year and a tower for my birthday before that.

She doesn't care what radio stuff I buy since we both have separate hobby budgets.


Title: RE: What factors do you take into account when you buy a rig?
Post by: K9IUQ on October 30, 2013, 05:17:59 PM
My wife bought me an FTdx-5000 for Christmas last year and a tower for my birthday before that.

Dang, Jerry I need a wife like that. I got socks and underwear for Christmas....

Stan K9IUQ


Title: RE: What factors do you take into account when you buy a rig?
Post by: W4KVW on November 04, 2013, 12:20:04 PM
Dang, Jerry I need a wife like that. I got socks and underwear for Christmas....

Stan K9IUQ
[/quote]

I got a NEW ICOM 2820H for my Birthday 2 weeks ago thanks to my wife who is the same woman in 2003 that told me I needed to my that NEW ICOM 756 PROII & of course I did & FYI she is NOT a Ham just a KEEPER. {:>)   ;D   :D

Clayton
W4KVW