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Author Topic: Receiver vs. Transciever [LONG]  (Read 746 times)

Posts: 1042

« on: April 13, 2007, 11:45:49 PM »

WARNING:  This turned into a tome, if you are in a hurry, move along, nothing to see here! <Grin>

So, I've got two HF rigs, both relatively low end, the older an Icom IC-735 and the other a Yaesu FT-847.  Both in good order.

As a new general, both of them work well for me.  In fact, I'm actually quite pleased with the performance of the Icom, considering its age, however, I know it's provenance and it's been relatively well treated - not much garage time.  Overall it's about as sensitive as the Yaseu.  The Yaesu has the edge in that it's got the weak-signal VHF/UHF capability and before it went obsolete, managed to score the 500 Hz CW filter for it.  I plan to keep both of them either way.

So, in planning for the future, I'm starting to consider future equipment.  My Elmer, a man I respect, has suggested that I should get the closest thing I can to an all analog receiver - that is one with the least computer intervention.  His feeling is that you can *ahem* "transmit with darn near any piece of junk, the trick is to hear the other guy".  He's got a point there.

Discord:  OK, I admit it, I'm facinated by the potential of the bandscope displays and the one on the Icom [Pro III I think?, just below the 15K one]  While it's possible to buy just the display unit [like the AOR unit], it really seems smarter to get the entire radio, which AOR is just announced.  With the new Icom receiver coming, maybe that solves much?  I don't know.  I also like the Ten-Tec receiver - they build it for the Gov't, it's probably good enough for us.  Simple display, but can be computer controlled.

Then I got my hands on the FT-2000.  Wow, so that's what a nice size tuning knob is.  No band display.  But it does have the appearance of a really good operating machine.

Anyway, I just thought I would throw this one out for discussion.

Given a reasonable sum of money to spend - say theoretically speaking, up to perhaps $5K, what choice would you make, and why - Receiver only, what kind, or transciever and which one.  I would say expose your prejudges but I know this group is highly rational in equipment purchases.  Have at it!

Posts: 10248


« Reply #1 on: April 14, 2007, 05:16:11 AM »

The question "what radio should I buy" is ask more than any other I can think of, save for the same question with "antenna" substituted for "radio".

The best solution is always to sit in front of the them at your nearest dealer, and decide for yourself which one offers the best bang for the buck for YOUR operation, not someone else's. And then, like Steve Katz, WB2WIK, always says, buy the one you played with if for no other reason than you know it works!

Alan, KØBG


Posts: 365

« Reply #2 on: April 14, 2007, 06:34:34 AM »

Well, I think your elmer is doing you huge disservice by offhandedly dissing the DSP IF and computer based radios. They do have a lot of advantages, especially for the range of IF filter selectivity they provide and for PC based radio's user control flexibility. But DSP IF can't do magic, if the analog stages preceding the A to D and DSP is poorly implemented then thee DSP IF can't magically undo that damage. This truism is not unique to DSP IF radios by the way.

Also you may want to look beyond the radio models that you are considering and take look at PC based SDR's. You can "test the waters" for yourself quite inexpensively if you like. All that you need to do is buy a Softrock V6.x kit (costs <$20) and then hook it up to your existing PC. Download Flex Radio's PowerSDR, and/or I2PHD's Winrad, and/or Rocky and then have some fun. With the Softrock board and any of those software packages you can see for yourself how the PC based SDR's work.

The Softrock HW won't match the HW that ships the Flex radio for performance but it will surprise you in how well it performs. The sound card in the PC you use will also define the performance limits of your test system. Most importantly though is that you will be exposed to some very powerful and efficient means for finding signals on the band and then be able to get to them with just a single click of the mouse. The radios you listed can't really do that, ... so keep that in mind.

If you have by that point decided to purchase a PC based SDR (or not) you can then re-crystal the Softrock board to use it as an IF sampler for either the 847 or the 735. Then you will have spectrum display functionality added to you existing radio that rivals radios like the 756 Pros. The key limitation being that this spectrum display configuration won't be integrated with the radio's tuning mechanism like the in-radio spectrum displays are.

And finally think about this: It is indeed true "you can't work them if you can't hear them" it is also true that "you can't hear them if you don't know that they are there". This is where the panadapter and/or waterfall along with point and click tuning really shines.


Posts: 2198

« Reply #3 on: April 14, 2007, 07:13:47 AM »

Perhaps you need a new (or at least another) Elmer?

    Dismissing the transmitter portion of your station (or radio) as "unimportant" is hardly the best advice.  And it does little good to "hear 'em" if you can't work 'em.
    With that, most radios I've used have receivers hotter than the range of their transmitter, but better is always something to strive for.
    But before you buy new equipment (your current line-up isn't so bad,) think if some of the money might be better spent in improving your antenna system.  That will improve your station's performance on both the receive and the transmit end.

    If you DO decide on new equipment, then by all means go to a local (or even not so local) shop where you can take various models for a "test drive."  All will have various features and attractions; and all will have various peculiarities that may annoy you no end.  Don't make any hasty decisions.  Then check reviews that give actual technical specifications and assessment, such as from the ARRL lab reviews, and compare performance.
    Remember, ultimately, it's the radio's actual performance that counts, not the fancy displays and various "bells and whistles."

Posts: 1042

« Reply #4 on: April 14, 2007, 04:02:20 PM »

Thanks all for the input.  I have to say that in general, I agree with most of you.

SDR:  I'm not ready for that leap - I want gear that works w/out a PC, always.

Antennas:  Yes, I'm quite aware of that issue, and frankly, I'm pretty limited in my options - I really don't have room for anything that requires guy wires, and the lot is narrow enough and constrained enough by trees to make almost any beam difficult, and with power lines on three sides...unsafe?  [yea, I'm in a pickle here], so I am limited to wire dipoles on all HF bands with the possible exception of a very small rooftop beam if I get ambitious, but that's about it.

This also means that I'm probably looking at running 100 watts for the foreseeable future.

I think his point about transmitters is that almost any legal transmitter is going to do about the same thing, provided it meets specifications, whereas receivers make a bigger difference.

Anyway, it would be nice if I could play with a couple of them - unfortunately, the AOR, the Icom R-9500 and the Ten-Tec are probably going to remain untouched since their sales volume is so low the dealers don't normally carry them.

And, yes, I do like what I have so maybe I just aught to get more operating experience.

Thanks for your thoughts!

Posts: 2527

« Reply #5 on: April 14, 2007, 08:44:08 AM »

W8JI has great info on receiver performance.

You haven't mentioned what type of operating and where on HF you like to play.

It is easy to change out just about every piece of ham gear except for a tower and antenna.  So, for upgrading, I'd look at tower and antenna.  Course, you need something to turn that antenna.

You situation might be that a motorized tower might suites your long term needs best.


Posts: 3289

« Reply #6 on: April 15, 2007, 05:36:03 AM »

Interesting advice from your elmer.  This is the first time in AGES I've seen someone advocating going back to separate tx/rx components.  Unless you are just dying to have a high end receiver, I can't why anyone would want to hassle with separate components for operating.

I would disagree that an analog filtered transceiver is hands down better than the newer IF processed models.   There has been a learning curve for the manufacturers since introduction, but I think that they have really begun to master the application with the latest models, e.g. 756ProIII.  The payoff with the digital filtering is the wide flexibility to find just the right settings to overcome changing QRM and QRN conditions.   With analog filtering you may be limited to five or six settings, and that's it.  Digitil is endless.

The bigger issue is personal preference and operation.  An analog filtered radio is never going to have much artifact and are relatively easy to operate.  Well true, some ops never can master even the IF shift knob.  If you don't like fiddling with controlls, or absolutely can't stand audio that might sound processed, then the digital radios might not be for you.

Good luck, enjoy the pleasure of researching and dreaming on a new radio!


Posts: 2527

« Reply #7 on: April 15, 2007, 08:22:41 AM »

You can probably have a lot of FUN with some form of a 30 meter vert.

W4RNL has nice info on "top loading" to shorten the length.


Posts: 1042

« Reply #8 on: April 15, 2007, 01:37:03 PM »

I'm looking into a vertical - I was thinking of doing a 1/4 wave vertical on 40 meters and feeding it with an SGC tuner at the base.  I'd hoped to do copper pipe, but I bought 10' of that today and it cost me nearly $40[!!!!!!!] on sale.  So, wire it is, thankfully, I do have a tree to hold it up.  I'm rather limited in area for radials but I'll manage somehow to get some up anyway.

Since I'm newly minted as General, I'm doing SSB voice on as many bands as I can manage, and am going to look into setting up sound card digital modes capability when I can afford it.

I'm hoping also to experiment with similar modes on VHF.

I've been licensed for just a couple of years so I'm in the midst of a huge learning curve - and I'm really trying to get as much out of it as I can.

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