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Author Topic: Best starting HF rig for non-technical retiree  (Read 1108 times)
N9OHW
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Posts: 49




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« on: September 09, 2004, 02:34:23 PM »

Hi Elmers,

I'm looking for a good starting HF rig for my dad, a 71-year old retiree who just passed his ham test.  I took my Icom 706MKIIG home for the Labor Day weekend from San Francisco to Chicago and set it up with a little antenna in the backyard.  I wanted to give him a demonstration and a chance to try it out.  He was totally overwhelmed by all the menus and button-pushing on the 706.  He's completely new to the hobby.

I'm looking for a modern rig that requires the least amount of tinkering and maintenence to get on the air.  Can be used or new.  I like the IC-718, but that might also be too much rig for him.  I would think about a tube rig, but having to re-adjust the loading plates for each band might also be too much tinkering.  

Any rig suggestions?  I would set it up for him and get him going - it just needs to be easy to use on auto-pilot.

Thanks!
Mike
N9OHW/6
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WB2WIK
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Posts: 20636




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« Reply #1 on: September 09, 2004, 02:40:12 PM »

I think the IC-718's a very good choice.  Not sure how it could be "too much" rig, because it's very basic and quite easy and intuitive to use.

Then, an older, analog or mostly analog solid-state rig might be an even better match.  I'm thinking like a Ten-Tec OMNI-D or something similar.  Good performance, very easy to use, no tuning, and no menus!

Set Dad up with some resonant, well-matched antennas so he won't have to mess with an antenna tuner.  Or, get something more modern that has a built-in auto tuner, but then all those rigs do use menus or have lots of controls, or both.

Mostly, set Dad up with a local Elmer, preferably another retired older gent in his local area who has free time to help a new ham.  In the Chicago area, there should be no problem finding somebody!

Keep up the good work!

WB2WIK/6
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KR4BD
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Posts: 236




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« Reply #2 on: September 09, 2004, 02:49:08 PM »

If a good used rig is OK, I think the Kenwood TS-140 is worth a look.  It's an excellent starter HF radio. and a reasonably good performer.  I bought it's "sister" rig, the TS-680 in 1987 and still use it.  The 680 is the same radio but features an additional band:  6 meters.

Tom, KR4BD
Lexington, KY
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N1OU
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Posts: 70




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« Reply #3 on: September 09, 2004, 03:44:46 PM »

In addition to being a good starter rig, the 718 also has a good manual.  It is written in non-technical language and even explains some "basics" along the way.  Thus, I second the 718 recommendation.

I'd also recommend a good wide-band vertical like the GAP Challenger so he can experience the differences in lots of bands without needing to mess with switching or complicated sets of radials.  A 718 and a Challenger would put him on 80 through 10 easy, with minimal set-up, no tuning, etc.

Gordon, N1OU
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W3JJH
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« Reply #4 on: September 09, 2004, 04:47:46 PM »

You should also consider the Kenwood TS-50S.  It's very simple to operate.
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KE5BJF
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Posts: 11




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« Reply #5 on: September 09, 2004, 05:07:53 PM »

I'd go along with the IC-718 recommendations.  It is a very easy radio to use.  Download the manual from the Icom site and you can see for yourself.  The menus are just one level deep.  I bought mine two weeks ago and it is very intuitive to use.  I figure most people could figure it out with no manual at all. Easier than setting the clock on a VCR.
Rob
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KC0KBH
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« Reply #6 on: September 09, 2004, 05:16:22 PM »

I for a tube rig, I would suggest a TS-520.  It was the 1st HF rig I ever used, and I got the hang of it in a few minutes.  
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G4IJE
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Posts: 248




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« Reply #7 on: September 09, 2004, 05:28:57 PM »

I don't want to complicate your choice but if you get a chance to try some radios before you buy, check out the FT-840. About the same price as an IC-718 (in fact slightly cheaper here in the UK) and gives a very good account of itself. The receiver sounds really good for a budget radio; better than the IC-718 in my opinion.

73, Paul G4IJE.
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WIRELESS
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Posts: 1




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« Reply #8 on: September 09, 2004, 06:43:56 PM »

I never figured out what a 'starter' rig is.  Does someone new to a hobby require substandard equipment?  Why buy a rig that one would consider limited because someone is new and then has to sell and buy something else later.  Why not buy something that will last and sell it if you change your mind later?
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K0RFD
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Posts: 1368




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« Reply #9 on: September 09, 2004, 07:12:40 PM »

Since "easy to use" was in your specification list and "cheap" wasn't necessary, I wouldn't use any of the low-end rigs that don't have an autotuner.  An outboard tuner would just be one more thing for your dad to hook up and 3 more knobs for him to have to twiddle.

I'd look hard at something like a Kenwood TS-570, either new or used.  Pretty painless radio to use right out of the box.  Decent receiver, good combination of knobs and buttons vs menus (knobs and buttons for the IMPORTANT stuff, menus for the "set it and forget it" stuff).  Built in autotuner that remembers where it was last when you change bands.  The D model without 6 meters is around $600 or less used.  I've seen the S model in the Eham classifieds lately for $650.  It may be "too much radio" but I doubt it.  And its ease of use should be pretty much a deciding factor.

There are others, too, but I don't have personal experience with them.
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KG6AMW
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Posts: 616




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« Reply #10 on: September 09, 2004, 07:50:46 PM »

Ditto the Yaesu 840, real straight forward with an actual analog meter and decent performance.  The only draw back is it doesn't have RF gain to quiet down noisy bands.

KG6AMW
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N6AJR
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« Reply #11 on: September 09, 2004, 09:31:37 PM »

The ft 840 will not drive a linear, step up to a FT 847 or a ts 2000, lots of buttons amd knobs, and menu items are set once and forgotten..
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W2NSF
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Posts: 122




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« Reply #12 on: September 10, 2004, 07:59:22 AM »

Check out the Ten Tec Jupiter.  Normally, you just need to set it up once, using the menus, and then the rest of the time you're just operating using mainly the knobs.  It's a real solid rig with a great reciever section.
 
I also agree with several other posters about the ICOM IC-718 - to me, this rig is similar to the 706, but with several of the often-used functions put on buttons or knobs.
 
Also check out the Kenwood TS-50S.
 
I'm so glad to hear your dad is getting on the air!
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KG6AMW
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Posts: 616




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« Reply #13 on: September 10, 2004, 10:18:37 AM »

Tom, you wrote, "The ft 840 will not drive a linear, step up to a FT 847 or a ts 2000, lots of buttons amd knobs, and menu items are set once and forgotten.. "  I use my FT840 to drive my Ameritron AL811 amp with no problem. I use the Yaesu interface to accomplish this, however, they no longer carry it. Doesn't the Ameritron amp relay accomplish this?

KG6AMW
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N8FVJ
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Posts: 692




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« Reply #14 on: September 10, 2004, 12:25:58 PM »

FT-840 or IC-718. Both are easy to use rigs.
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